With the 2018 World Cup upon us, Emabis takes a look at Group F which Germany will dominate to leave a battle for second.
Group F features Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.
After their fourth World Cup triumph in Brazil 2014, the reigning World Cup champions arrive in Russia confident of defending their title. And they have every reason to be confident. They have reached the semi-final stages in all of their last six tournaments and secured qualification for Russia at ease with ten wins from ten, forty-three goals scored and only four conceded.
To add to Germany's strong tournament experience, Joachim Low has a depth of talent to choose from. So much so, he has left Manchester City's Leroy Sane at home. In goals, captain Manuel Neuer starts (if fit) with Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen a strong back-up. In defence, Low can call upon the likes of Antonio Rudiger, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich. In midfield, Germany has an array of world-class options including Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler and Ilkay Gundogan. And in attack, a combination from Thomas Muller, Marco Reus and Timo Werner offer goals.
Mexico qualified for Russia after first topping a group ahead of Honduras, Canada and El Salvador before then topping a final group ahead of Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, USA and Trinidad & Tobago. In qualifying, they lost only once – away to Honduras in their final meaningless game. Since the first World Cup in 1930, Mexico have only failed to qualify for the finals on five occasions. But their best finish was in the two tournaments they hosted (1970 and 1986) when they reached the quarter final stage. They have exited the competition in the Last 16 of the last six consecutive tournaments.
With Porto trio Hector Herrera, Jesus Corona and Miguel Layun effective in midfield, and Javier Hernandez, Hirving Lozano and Raul Jimenez in attack, Mexico have enough strength to quality. But progression through the knock-out stages may again be a step too far.
Sweden qualified for Russia by finishing ahead of Holland on goal difference to clinch second spot, behind France, before then beating Italy 1-0 on aggregate in a play-off. Third place finishers in USA 1994, this is Sweden’s first World Cup finals appearance since 2006.
But, to put the current standing of Swedish football into perspective, the team that reached the Last 16 in 2006 featured Olof Mellberg, Freddie Ljungberg, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Henrik Larsson. This team's highest profile players are Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof and Hull’s Sebastian Larsson.
This is South Korea’s ninth successive qualification to the World Cup finals. However, with away defeats to Iran, China and Qatar, South Korea stuttered to qualify behind Iran in second. Heavily dependent on Spurs’ Heung-Min Son and, to a lesser extent, Swansea’s Sung-Yueng Ki and Augsburg’s Dong-Won Ji, any hopes South Korea may hold rest firmly on their shoulders.
With the exception of a surprise fourth place finish on home soil in 2002 and a Last 16 exit in 2010, South Korea have always exited at the group stage. History looks set to repeat itself in Russia.
This is a pretty straight forward Group to predict. Since their first World Cup win in 1954 (sixteen competitions), Germany has won the World Cup four times, been losing finalists four times and been losing semi-finalists a further four times. They have also won every Group since 1986. They are bankers to top Group F.
South Korea will be hard working but limited, whilst Sweden are merely a shadow of their former selves. Mexico aren’t world beaters either but they hold enough quality to take second and extend their record of consecutive Last 16 exits (most likely to Brazil as Group E winners).
Predicted Group Standings
- South Korea
Recommended Group Bet
Mexico are generally Evens to qualify from Group F and 7/4 to finish qualify in second position. But by taking Mexico to qualify second to Germany, both those prices can be enhanced and that is the preferred option here.
Recommended Group Match Bet
I believe Mexico are a better team than Sweden so I'm surprised to see them odds-against to win their head-to-head in the final group game.